My View

Vote no March 22 to push for new high school

February 24, 2014 

I am new to the Lake Wylie community but have been following stories related to the Clover schools bond referendum scheduled for a vote on March 22.

I am pro-education and as an educator I am genuinely concerned about the talk of Clover High School possibly increasing its enrollment to more than 3,000 students (which includes a stand-alone ninth-grade academy) during the next several years.

There is nothing written explicitly on the ballot about building a high school in Lake Wylie to alleviate expected overcrowding, but I thought about how I should vote to ensure the topic of a second high school might be addressed. After long stretches of reflection, I believe that a NO vote on March 22 will encourage further discussions about when and where to build a new high school in Lake Wylie.

Having two smaller high schools in the Clover School District would:

• Give the invisible student a chance to be noticed by his teacher.

• Allow expanded opportunities for creative students to participate in art, music, drama, journalism, and creative writing classes.

• Reduce class overload and teacher fatigue from having over-sized classes and associated discipline problems.

• Ensure that the gifted, advanced, college-prep, tech-driven, or other students will have an environment in which to thrive academically.

• Encourage teachers to regularly and delightfully pull out those best practices and challenge their students to move forward in achieving rigorous objectives to prepare them for college or for the workplace.

• Make students feel safe. I have heard students say that they won’t use the restroom at school. Recently, at a high school in a neighboring state, each teacher had to escort the entire class to the restroom every period, with the exception of the lunch block. Teachers lost at least 10 minutes of instruction time escorting high school students to the restroom. Add 10 minutes by three blocks, and that means each student was out of class 30 minutes each day and missed 50 minutes of class instruction per week in a single class. Of course, there were consequences: the school scored lowest in the district on their end-of-course tests.

• Reduce the need for mobile classrooms.

• Eliminate the need for classroom sharing between teachers. The teacher with the traveling push cart, weaving her way in and out of student traffic, is likely to have many days when the warm-up is not ready. High school teachers know how important it is to begin the lesson immediately, or to be Smart-Board ready each period. Otherwise, down time with class chatter could become an ongoing problem.

Neighboring school districts

When Northwestern High School in Rock Hill School District Three was bulging with an enrollment of approximately 2,300 students. teachers floated and students sat in closets and at teacher desks because of the overcrowding. Soon a third high school, South Pointe, was added. Now, according to Public Information Director Elaine Baker, the enrollment in the RHSD is 1,781 for Northwestern, with a capacity of 2,200; 1,337 for South Pointe, with a capacity of 1,800; and 1,961 for Rock Hill High School, with a capacity of 2,200. The three schools are athletic powerhouses, winning state championships and producing stars like Jadeveon Clowney (South Pointe ’11) and Justin Worley (NW ’11).

Fort Mill District Four boasts of two high schools. According to Jean McMullen, a technology support specialist in the office of student services, Fort Mill High School has an enrollment of 1,779 students; Nation Ford, 1,680. Capacity numbers were not available.

Neither Fort Mill nor Rock Hill schools have stand-alone ninth grade academies.

According to Clover SuperintendentMarc Sosne, additions or renovations to the existing Clover High School could put off the need to build another high school until 2025 if this bond referendum passes. I am not in favor of waiting 11 more years for a new high school. I don’t want our children’s learning or safety to be negatively impacted because of overcrowding. Thus, I plan to vote NO on March 22.

There is a school across the river named Lake Wylie Elementary. I hope we will act soon so that we will lay claim to the name of Lake Wylie High School. Lake Wylie High School – the name has a pleasant ring, doesn’t it?

Bessie M. Meeks is a Lake Wylie area resident.

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